Fundraising net proceeds go to COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO

How to evolve a monoclonal antibody response to SARS-CoV-2

Dr. Crowe is a viral immunologist and board-certified pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A handful of vaccine candidates and monoclonal antibodies that he has developed in his academic lab are in clinical trials or late preclinical development with commercial partners.

At the upcoming virtual event, Therapeutic Pipeline for COVID-19, Dr. Crowe will discuss the antibody and B-cell response of humans with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection. By isolating thousands of monoclonal antibodies, his team has identified clones with diverse reactivities and ultrapotent neutralization activity. The lead antibodies selected conferred complete protection in a nonhuman primate model of infection.

Dr. Emily Le, producer of the event, caught up with Dr. Crowe to learn more about his work on human antibody discovery platforms and how he straddles the worlds of academia and a biotech startup.

EL: What is your background and what inspired you to pursue healthcare and science?

JC: I am a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, but I have dedicated my career to viral immunology research pertinent to vaccines and antibodies. I committed my professional career to developing solutions for infectious diseases after some very important experiences in Africa, South America and the Pacific during my medical training.

EL: As a physician but also an academic, how do you perceive the development of your therapeutic relative to industry in terms of speed and efficiency?

JC: Our academic group has developed one of the fastest human antibody discovery platforms ever, and we have often isolated the most potent antibodies in the field. The limitation is that we don’t manufacture our own antibodies for clinical trials, so, when we are done with discovery there is a transition or transfer to industry that can take time.

EL: What are the pros and cons of developing a drug for COVID-19 from an academic lab?

JC: The pros are that we are very experienced in fundamental immunology, and we are nimble in terms of innovating. The con is that we ultimately have to transfer our leads to others to continue development.

EL: Have you engaged with industry to facilitate progress, if necessary?

JC: Yes, I have founded a startup, IDBiologics, which is a great partner for development, and we have licensed antibodies to other industry partners who have taken some of our antibodies into clinic or emergency use, such as AstraZeneca (SARS-CoV-2), Moderna (chikungunya) and Mapp Bio (Marburg).

EL: What is your vision for the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center?

JC: We have launched an ambitious project called AHEAD100 to make best-in-class human monoclonal antibodies for the 100 infections most likely to cause epidemics, and we are well on our way to bringing many of these to fruition by partnering with commercial entities to get the leads tested in Phase I trials or beyond.

EL: With your technology and approach for isolating thousands of COVID-19-specific antibodies, are you in favor of an antibody cocktail that can bind non-overlapping epitopes and provide, perhaps, more effective neutralization of COVID-19 as opposed to a single antibody??

JC: Either strategy could work, in my opinion.

EL: As a physician, will you organize and orchestrate clinical trials? Are any on the horizon?

JC: Our laboratory advises in this area, but we do not conduct clinical trials. For SARS-CoV-2, IDBiologics, AstraZeneca and the U.S. JPEO with Ology are conducting trials using our antibodies.

EL: What do you want the Bioinsider attendees to gain from your talk?

JC: An appreciation that the era for antibody interventions to prevent or treat infectious diseases is finally upon us.

If you would like to hear Dr. James Crowe live at the Therapeutic Pipeline for COVID-19 Virtual Meeting, register today with a 30% Discount Promo Code: interview30 (Apply before checkout).

 

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James E. Crowe, Jr., MD,

Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Center; Professor, Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Ann Scott Carell Chair; Founder, IDBiologics

Dr. Crowe’s laboratory has a broad portfolio of work in the area of viral immunology and antibody sciences, with the goal to discover mechanisms of immunity important to developing new therapeutics and vaccines.

Dr. Crowe received his MD degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also completed his pediatrics residency. Following his clinical training, Dr. Crowe received five years of post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the NIH. He completed infectious diseases fellowship training in 1996 at Vanderbilt and has run an independent laboratory at Vanderbilt since that time. He is currently Professor of Pediatrics and of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, and the Ann Scott Carell Chair, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The laboratory’s work has been published in over 300 publications in high-quality science journals including CellScience and Nature, and leading medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. Dr. Crowe was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2014 and the National Academy of Inventors in 2017. He has been the recipient of investigator awards from the March of Dimes, American Society for Microbiology, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and Society for Pediatric Research. He was awarded the Judson Infectious Daland Prize of the American Philosophical Society, the Oswald Avery Award of the IDSA, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Pediatrics, the Outstanding Investigator Award of the American Federation for Medical Research, the Norman J. Siegel Award of the American Pediatric Society, the Samuel Rosenthal Prize for Excellence in Academic Pediatrics, the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award of American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award from UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC. He is an elected Fellow of AAM, AAAS, ASCI, and AAP, IDSA, APS, and others. His research team was selected as the Best Academic Research Team at the 11th Annual Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards. He was awarded the inaugural 2019 Merck Future Insight Prize, a 1M Euro prize shared with Pardis Sabeti. 

He is the Founder of IDBiologics, Inc., an early-stage biotech company developing human monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases.

Daniel Chen, MD, PhD

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Imre Berger

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Ralph Rogers, MD

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Ralph Rogers, MD is an infectious disease specialist at the Lifespan Cancer Institute. He earned his medical degree from The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University where he also completed his residency and fellowship in infectious diseases. Dr. Rogers is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Clinician Educator Division of Infectious Diseases Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the American Society of Transplantation (AST).

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